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A key challenge in our industry revolves around leveraging data’s true potential through AI: Pawan Satyawali, Global CIO, Tata Consumer Products 

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In an exclusive interaction with Express Computer, Pawan Satyawali, Global Chief Information Officer, Tata Consumer Products, sheds light on his organisation’s recent digital initiatives and the ongoing digital transformation journey. Over the past three years, Tata Consumer Products has embarked on a strategic evolution, emphasising cloud migration, data analytics, and AI integration. Through partnerships, innovative solutions, and a commitment to leveraging cutting-edge technologies, the company aims to redefine customer engagement, operational efficiency, and data security in the consumer goods industry.

Can you discuss your recent digital initiatives and your digital transformation journey?

Tata Consumer Products was formed four years ago with a vision to synergise, simplify and scale the principal consumer interests of the Tata Group under one umbrella. We are on a transformation journey to becoming a best in class FMCG company. To do this, we needed to build on the foundation by putting systems in place that allow us to embed digital across the organisation to enhance effectiveness and agility. For example, we moved entirely to the cloud and are proud to say we are now 100% cloud-based with no on-prem operations. This migration included significant re-engineering of our connectivity and security.

Additionally, we consolidated our ERP platform to a singular instance across the company which caters to multiple global geographies. On the sales side, we’ve been working on the entire sales acceleration platform – MAVIC which consists of several solutions like DMS, SSFS, etc. Currently we have onboarded a few hundred distributors and will complete 100% by Q3. We also started streamlining our procurement processes with our own homegrown solution, InfiniTi, for raw material buying.This was launched last November, and we are now extending it to our food operations. Significant work is also being done to streamline logistics, including implementing TMS and Warehousing Management.

The strategy was straightforward: start with a strong foundation and then build business applications on top that create differentiation for business.

Are we incorporating AI in our operations? Absolutely. Within Indian CPG companies, we likely have the best-in-class data offering at this point. We have a robust data lake offering with cloud warehouse, and capabilities around AI. Our platform, initially started as a lake for reporting purposes, has significantly improved over the last year. We now integrate our applications to fetch data using connectors, with data on the lake side derived entirely using AI. This includes order recommendations for primary and secondary sales, filler or SKU suggestions, and price forecasting, all driven by our AI capabilities.

What has been your focus on data security?

We have recently undergone a DTOM data assessment, which is the gold standard assessment from Tata Group.  It focuses on data maturity assessment. We achieved very good scores on that. Our cyber team works very closely with the data team on data safeguarding, not only from an access perspective but also in terms of handling privacy and cataloguing. All of these aspects are being addressed diligently. The reason we put this much effort into it is to ensure comprehensive data protection across all fronts.

How can organisations balance using AI for risk assessment and security purposes, while also addressing the enhanced threats that AI implementation can bring?

Use of AI for cybersecurity, that’s a work in progress. Recently, we’ve implemented the next-gen SIEM (Security Information and Event Management) system from Microsoft Sentinel. The goal is to enhance our capabilities in this area.

This year and the next, will see significant activity in the cybersecurity domain as we explore and introduce various AI tools. However, for now, we’re already leveraging out-of-the-box solutions like Sentinel.

How has been the traction of GenAI in this industry?

Yes, GenAI is a crucial area for us. We’ve established a small team dedicated to this initiative. So far, we’ve accomplished two significant milestones. 

First, we’ve launched the GenAI portal, MOSAIC, for all our users. This portal allows users to ask their queries and perform simple tasks like uploading a file and asking for insights based on that file. This functionality is powered by GPT 4.0, which we’ve integrated into MOSAIC.

Second, for our marketing teams, we’ve institutionalised platforms like Midjourney and now offer them as a structured service. These steps mark significant progress in our efforts to leverage generative AI for enhancing user experience and streamlining our marketing processes.

We are working on several more use cases as well as investing, creating awareness and building talent in this area.

Is it for external communication with customers or also for internal use?

It’s both. So if you look into the marketing team, they’re using GenAI to create the external marketing material. But if you look into the GPT-4 portal, which we talked about, which is internally focused, that data we’re not sending out. So that data is controlled within the organisation.

For external use, how many languages are supported?

Currently, it’s only available in English. We’re still in the early stages of this journey, with GenAI playing a pivotal role. Considering the timeline, it’s been just about a year since inception. Reflecting on the past six months, we take pride in the progress made thus far. However, we anticipate further advancements as we continue to steer in the right direction.

What potential impacts do you foresee GenAI having on the human workforce?

In our industry, there’s a prevailing sentiment that AI will serve as a valuable aid, bringing about positive impacts. I’m not one to subscribe to the notion that technology will inevitably lead to job reduction; such predictions have been made before, yet little has materialised from them. 

My stance is firmly optimistic. I view AI as a fantastic tool that will empower companies to augment their workforce with effective assistance. It’s all about leveraging these advancements to enhance productivity and efficiency. Let’s embrace this opportunity and see where it takes us. Of course, there will be challenges along the way, but I believe we’re poised for progress.

Do you have plans to incorporate any new technologies in the next six to 12 months or a roadmap for technological implementation?

When it comes to exploring new avenues, our focus will primarily revolve around improving sales, operations, finance and shared services areas. We have already done significant work on the Platforms side. For example,  cloud technology; we’re already fully immersed in cloud infrastructure. Similarly, in the realm of cybersecurity, we’ve recently implemented next-generation solutions, signifying a substantial investment. Additionally, we’ve made significant strides by integrating Salesforce into our operations.

From a business perspective, we’re already leveraging the latest and most advanced tools available. Nonetheless, we remain committed to ongoing enhancements and optimisations. For instance, while we currently utilise a forecasting tool, we may augment it with complementary solutions in the future. Such endeavours will continue to be part of our strategic investments moving forward.

What current industry trends are persistent, and which ones do you aim to capitalise on?

The biggest concern in our industry, from a business standpoint, revolves around leveraging data’s true potential through AI. Utilising AI to drive top-line and bottom-line growth, whether in sales or operations, is poised to be a game-changer. Despite lingering challenges such as data accessibility and pricing hurdles, those adept at effectively integrating data into their daily strategies stand to benefit significantly.

From an infrastructure angle, while cloud adoption remains a focal point for many, it’s become somewhat of an antiquated narrative for us. While others are still in transition, we view cloud migration as a well-trodden path, having embraced it long ago.

Amid our exploration of cutting-edge technologies, a critical consideration is safeguarding our users, their devices, and the data they entrust to us. Ensuring robust security measures is paramount as we navigate this evolving landscape.

Do you think there should be a guideline on the acceptable use of AI in organisations across industries?

We’ve recently launched an acceptable use policy for GenAI technologies. Over the next three to six months, our focus will be on educating users and raising awareness about the policy and safe uses of GenAI. To ensure its effectiveness, we’ve developed comprehensive guidelines tailored for two distinct user groups: Users and Admin / Architects. This initiative is currently a work in progress, but we’re dedicated to refining and implementing these guidelines to ensure responsible and effective utilisation of GenAI technologies.

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